Alex Honnold just led the first ascent of one of Earth's tallest Arctic sea cliffs—for science

Battling treacherous conditions, celebrated rock climbers help a scientist traverse a remote Greenland ice cap, gathering crucial climate data along the way.

Alex Honnold leads a pitch during the first ascent of a sea cliff in eastern Greenland known as Ingmikortilaq, which in Greenlandic means "the separate one."
Courtesy: Disney+

Battling loose rock, sub-freezing temperatures, and sudden storms, two of the world’s most celebrated rock climbers, Alex Honnold and Hazel Findlay, completed a notable first ascent of one of the world’s tallest monoliths, a remote 3,750-foot rock wall in eastern Greenland, reaching the summit midday Tuesday. 

Known locally as Ingmikortilaq (Ing-mik-or-tuh-lack)—which in Greenlandic means “the separate one”—the formation is named after the peninsula on which it is located. This towering buttress of granite-gneiss rises directly out of the ice-choked waters of Nordvestfjord in the island’s Scoresby Sound region. Previously, it had stood as one of the tallest unclimbed sea cliffs in the world.

“We literally went off the edge of the map to reach this wall,” Honnold said, via satellite phone from the team’s base camp, referring to the nautical maps the team had been following, which offered no details about the fjord where Ingmikortilaq is located. “It is definitely one of the biggest first ascents I’ve ever done–and one of the most stressful due to how dangerous the climbing was.” 

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